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Connecticut Expands Travel Advisory To 16 States, National Experts Warn Of Virus Spread

June 25, 2020: These travelers coming to Connecticut from South Carolina are being asked to voluntarily enter a two week quarantine upon entering the state.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
These travelers coming to Connecticut from South Carolina on June 25, 2020, were asked to voluntarily quarantine for two weeks upon entering the state.

Connecticut added eight states Tuesday to its travel advisory that calls for visitors from now 16 states to quarantine for two weeks. Meanwhile, as Connecticut reported just over 150 new COVID-19 cases, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor warned that the U.S. could experience 100,000 new cases a day.

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Gov. Ned Lamont added California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, which were announced last week. Travelers from those states are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Connecticut.

Travelers from the 16 states also can get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of entering Connecticut. If the test is negative, the quarantine can be lifted, the governor has said. 

In Connecticut, fines or penalties won’t be imposed on travelers who don’t comply. But in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said violators could face fines, suggesting $2,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenses

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that visitors from Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey would not have to quarantine if coming to that state. Baker has had a recommended 14-day quarantine in place since March 27.

Meanwhile, many travelers from the United States will not be allowed in Europe when borders open Wednesday. The European Union will open its external borders, but it left the U.S. off a list of 15 travel partners. The EU allows member countries to implement the ban but advises countries not to unilaterally lift travel restrictions.

Connecticut COVID Numbers Decline, U.S. Senate Hears Stark Warning

The governor’s office Tuesday announced 152 new COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, bringing the overall total to 46,514. The state’s hospitalizations for COVID-19 dropped by one, to 98 patients. Two more people died from the virus, increasing the state’s total to 4,322 deaths. New tests reached an all-time daily high of 21,416, according to Lamont, dropping the infection rate to about 0.7%. 

“Today's metrics, with an all-time high in tests reported and all-time low in test positivity rate, reflect momentum in our testing strategy and discipline from the people of Connecticut,” Lamont tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

The news was not as good nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 35,664 new cases Tuesday. It reported 41,390 new cases Monday and 44,703 and 44,602 on Sunday and Saturday, respectively. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday that he could see the number of new daily cases doubling. 

“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned," Fauci said.

Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield both told Senate committee members that people need to wear masks and social distance to slow the spread of the disease. 

Youth Employment Program To Get Additional $2 Million

Lamont announced on Tuesday that the state will release $2 million from the coronavirus relief funds to help community-based agencies hire teens and young adults. The money dedicated to the Connecticut Youth Employment Program is in addition to $4.5 million the state already allocated for the program. 

The jobs may include virtual outreach through social media to promote safer health practices, delivery of educational materials to community and other organizations, and outreach and assistance to homebound families, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Organizers said the additional money for the program is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to promote employment opportunities for our youth and young adults in raising public awareness of the COVID-19 crisis,” Catherine N. Awwad, executive director of the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, said in a statement. 

Sacred Heart, Goodwin And The Paier To Join The University Of Bridgeport Campus

Lamont was on hand Tuesday at the University of Bridgeport to announce that Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Goodwin University in East Hartford and the Paier College of Art in Hamden all will share a presence on the Bridgeport campus. 

Some programs likely will be combined or shift from one school to another, according to a statement from the University of Bridgeport. Goodwin, Sacred Heart and Paier will assume a number of academic programs now being offered by the University of Bridgeport, the statement said. But the University of Bridgeport will retain its board of trustees and continue to operate as an independent institution.

The new educational collaborative is welcomed in the city. “This is an exciting time for the University of Bridgeport as higher education is reimagined in collaboration with three institutions that are each known for excellence in academic concentrations,” Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement. 

The timetable for the educational cohort will depend on approval from each institution’s board of directors and academic accreditation of programs, the statement said. 

Lamont ‘Rethinking’ Reopening Of Bars, Expanding Restaurant Capacity Restrictions 

Connecticut residents who want a drink at a bar or a night out at a club may have to wait longer than first anticipated. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that he was rethinking the next phase of the state’s reopening after several states backtracked on reopening plans. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that indoor dining in that state will not resume Thursday as he first announced. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars statewide to shut down Friday after initially reopening them at 25% capacity on May 22 and 50% capacity on June 3 -- as long as customers stayed seated. A group of bar owners filed a lawsuit Monday against Murphy and the state to allow their businesses to reopen.

Abbott has expressed regret about opening bars too soon. “If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars,” Abbott said Friday evening on KVIA-TV in El Paso

Lamont issued an executive order to close all businesses not deemed essential on March 20. Restaurants reopened for outdoor table service and retail clothing stores were allowed to reopen May 20 in what the governor deemed Phase 1 of the state’s gradual plan to reopen. Barbershops and hair salons opened June 1 -- still under Phase 1. Phase 2 came June 17 with indoor dining -- at 50% capacity -- returning to restaurants, gyms reopening, indoor museums and movie theaters opening and tattoo, nail salons and other personal services resuming. 

Phase 3 is said to include the opening of bars and clubs and expanding the number of people restaurants can allow to dine inside with a target date in mid-July -- but that timeline could be too soon, Lamont said Monday. 

“Connecticut never opened up its bars. Sorry about that, but I think it was a good move,” Lamont said at a news conference Monday. 

“I do get anxious because there is a very narrow margin of error,” Lamont said, noting that the Arizona infection rate went from 4% to 14% in two weeks. That’s dramatic in terms of charting COVID-19 trends, the governor said.

“That’s the hockey stick,” he said. “It reminds you of the risk there is.” 

Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee And Campers Both Return Wednesday

Among Lamont’s COVID-19 precautions in March was an executive order suspending Connecticut’s 10-cent fee on single-use plastic bags. The order is set to expire Wednesday -- July 1 -- when retailers again are required to collect the fee.

Early in the pandemic, some retailers set policy preventing employees from bagging groceries in customers' reusable bags. 

“According to guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), given the most current scientific information available, reusable bags do not serve as a significant source of infection for COVID-19,” the Department of Revenue Services said in a statement last week.

Stop & Shop will continue to encourage customers to bag their own groceries. 

“We have instituted policies in our stores requesting customers to bag their own groceries if they are bringing reusable bags with them during their shopping trip to better adhere to safety and sanitation standards,” Stop & Shop spokeswoman Maura O’Brien said in a statement to Connecticut Public Radio. She said Stop & Shop will be charging a 10-cent fee per paper or plastic bag beginning Wednesday.

Consumers are advised to wash reusable bags between uses and to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes.

Connecticut continues to be on track to eliminate single-use plastic bags by July 2021.

Campers can return to 14 state parks and forests Wednesday, but only if they use a recreational vehicle with a working bathroom and water system and if they have a reservation. Campgrounds will open to all campers -- including tent campers -- beginning July 8.

Big E, Minor League Baseball Canceled 

The easing of restrictions and improving trends in New England were not enough to save The Big E for 2020.  Organizers of The Eastern States Exposition announced Monday that the fair, which draws more than 1 million visitors from New England and New York, was canceled for this year. 

“This decision was difficult and complex, but we all know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year,” Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of The Big E, said in a video message Monday

The fair is scheduled for Sept. 17 through Oct. 3, 2021, according to the fair’s website, which is already counting down the days. 

And Minor League Baseball has officially canceled its 2020 season.  

The Hartford Yard Goats announced the move Tuesday, saying that anyone who bought tickets for 2020 home games will be contacted by a team representative.

The team attracted more than 1 million fans over its first three seasons in Hartford, with 51 sellouts last year. 

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